How to Launch a Product Line as an Influencer
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Today, we're gonna talk about how to launch your own product line as a creator or influencer. I'm Justin Moore. Welcome to Creator Wizard, your step-by-step guide to the business of being a creator. In this video, you're gonna learn why launching a product line can be a critical step to diversifying your creator business, common pitfalls to avoid when selecting what to sell, and the best way to approach selling something to your followers.
So today we're gonna be speaking with Bre Islar who recently launched the Brand Builder Studio.
Yeah, so first of all, thank you so much for having me on. I really am so excited to chat with you. I am a little bit of a mommy blogger slash I really like, really try to inspire women. My journey started on social media 10 years ago. Actually, I launched my YouTube channel in February of 2010, and over that period of time, my content has changed. It's grown with me throughout the years. So I do a little bit of like, mommy-blogger content. I share a little bit of my family, and then also I just do a lot of inspirational posts and encouraging other women who are interested in the entrepreneurial journey to kickstart their journeys and get started.
That's so fantastic, and so, you know, having been on social media for a long time and have seen kind of the evolution of a lot of the different ways in which you can monetize it as a creator, what, what is, can you talk a little bit about why you decided to decided to go down this journey of launching a product line?
To be honest, when I started YouTubing way way back, within the first year of launching one of the things that I really really was passionate about doing was starting my own makeup line. Believe it or not, it was something that I wanted to do from the very beginning. Because actually at that time I was also I was a full-time teacher and then I was also freelance makeup artists on the weekends. So two to three weekends out of every month I was doing different kinds of gigs from bridal to, you know, special events and proms and birthdays and things of that nature. And for me during that time, I was always asked by my clients back then it was really about eye shadows. If I had any eyeshadows that, you know I thought would be really good for them. For them to have on there, you know in their own tool kits, if you will, and then also lip colors. A lot of my clients wanted customized lipsticks, custom lip colors. And so back then I would mix colors and put it in little containers and leave it with them for them to touch up their makeup after I finished. And so over that period of time, I always wanted to launch a makeup line. This was something that I wanted to do from the very beginning. I was inspired by so many other YouTubers who were in the beauty community, who also launched makeup collections and makeup lines. And like I said, over the years, things just kinda happened and the journey kind of took its fair share of pivots. So I wasn't able to do it as soon as I would have liked to. And then to be honest, that's the part of why my content is so inspirational is because for a period of time I kind of thought it was no longer something that I could do. I kind of talked myself out of it. I became a mom and my daughter, my oldest daughter was born with special needs. And I just was really focused on mom life and kind of let myself and my dreams go. I kinda let them go, you know, off to the wayside and didn't think it was something that I would be able to do anymore, until the end of 2019. I really decided to, you know, go back and make a chance to take a chance and go for it
Good for you. That is super inspirational. And I think, I think that resonates with a lot of people, which is like you've got these dreams, but you know, life has other plans, right?
And, and, you know you really kind of have to roll with the punches. And so for you to have the fortitude to go back and chase after your dreams, I think is fantastic. And you know, you're really to be applauded for that. And you know, I think it's a great segue to talk about this thing I hear a lot from creators, which is just that how do I even start, right? Like, like I don't even know how to begin, right? Like, it's one thing to launch maybe like a Teespring store, you know like Merch or something, or a bonfire. You know one of these stores that does fulfillment for you or slap your logo on it, you know, and that kind of thing. Right, so can you talk a little bit about how you even started? Like, you know, like well, first of all, like why did you decide to kind of double down on beauty products? I mean, you have this experience in the past having done this. And so were you always like, okay this is definitely what I'm gonna do or did you have a broader vision? Like, Oh, I want to do skincare or like or were you ever like, I don't really know what to start with.
Initially I was, it was always always in my heart to do makeup. And then I kind of talked myself out of it and kind of backpedaled out. And I was like, okay, well I'll do skincare. Because after becoming a mom I wasn't wearing makeup as much anymore. And so I got really good with my skincare. I had a really good regimen. I suggested some really great products to other people. And I was, you know, really thinking that I would go into that route instead. And I think that that's still on the table, to be honest I do still wanna go that route as well. But I kind of just felt the need to really push myself in the direction of beauty as it pertains to makeup. Because as a black woman, there were not a lot of or actually there weren't any that I can think of black owned makeup companies when I started YouTube. And so I wanted to be a face that represented women that looked like me or deeper complexions to provide a product that was beautiful for them as well. I think at the time I found myself being pitched to work with other brands as a creator to showcase other beauty products for other companies. But nothing really suited people who were, if you were even a little bit darker than I am I wouldn't have been able to reach you with the content or the products that were being offered to me to showcase on my channel. And so it was really important to me that I would be one of those people who would be able to share products with women who looked like me, who looked like my mom. Who was actually really, really much darker than I am, I should say. So that I had more of an opportunity to showcase products for women of color. So that was really why I wanted to continue in the direction of beauty as it pertains to makeup.
Super interesting, and I've heard that story so many times that social media has really democratized the ability to find people that are just like you, right? Or like, or find people, you know, if you go into a drug store, or you go into a department store. You know, oftentimes it's hard to find products that connect with you. I mean, April has said that before. You know, with her, with an Asian complexion, like it's somewhat difficult. Not just for makeup, but other products, right?
Yeah, that's right.
Right, right, exactly. And so like one thing that is very interesting to me about your messaging and your marketing for the brand is that it seems like you were very intentional about the audience that you chose, right? Like you say in some kind of like your marketing company, like people who are bold, who are unapologetic, you know? Is that kinda how you sought to differentiate yourself from other beauty brands out there? Or how did you think about like messaging?
For sure, I wanted the messaging to be as authentic to who I am as possible so that it wouldn't be a job really. For me it would just be a continuation of a hobby that I really really loved that was actually profitable. So for me, before leaving my job as a teacher which was the highlight of my life, I found that I really didn't ever feel like I was going to work, right? I really love kids. I love working with the kids. I loved working with the parents for the most part. And so I really, really enjoyed my job and becoming a mom and the school that I taught at closed. So for me, when I was teaching to go into a different area and make that transition whatever that I have done over this 10 year and you know this journey for me had to have been something that continued to bring me the kind of joy that teaching did. And so for me, I am very outspoken. I am very unapologetic. I am very bold with my messaging. I am very intentional about what I share, how I share it and, you know the message to whom I'm trying to share it with. And so, yeah I really wanted it to be something that, because one thing that has happened over the last 10 years is that there are other black owned beauty brands now, right? There are so many other entrepreneurs who have launched amazing companies like Fenty and you know some really amazing black-owned brands. and so how could I stand out? What things could I do to complement what I offer but also speak to a specific audience? The Crayon Case is another one that I'm really, I'm really inspired by. She's another black-owned business owner and she's very bold with her messaging as well. And it just inspired me and let me know that it is okay to go into a direction that may not be as normal as everyone else. But one of the most important things for me with the Brand Builder Studio was that I wanted it to still look like a corporation. Like I didn't want it to look like it was something that is being, you know, processed from my home, you know?
I wanted to make sure that there was an experience and even, you know we've only, it's only been a little over a month since we officially launched, but we're definitely working even now to continue the experience of luxury as a black-owned business as well. So I definitely wanted to make sure that it spoke to a certain demographic. The messaging was specific to a certain demographic and that's not just black women, to be honest with you Justin. I'm really excited to work with all women.
But I'm very proud to be a black woman who is able to do this. So it's just been an exciting journey so far for me.
Absolutely, and so I mean given that, you know the launch is still relatively fresh in your mind. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about some of the obstacles that you faced in the process of launching the brand, right? Right, like you know, if you had to think back on like everything that you've had to go through to get to this moment. Like, are there some things that stick out in your mind of like particularly difficult circumstances that you had to overcome?
Oh man. So to be honest, there have been more obstacles thus far than anything. I handle it all myself. So I do the branding, the graphic design, the marketing. I did the website, the logo, just everything that has encompassed the Brand Builder Studio up until this point has been me. My husband said he would help me with packaging orders which have been amazing as well. But even that with the shipping and the processing of all the orders and just the whole thing has been me. And I would say that one of the biggest obstacles that I had was like you said in the beginning, I just, I didn't know where to start. As a beauty blogger, I've seen other creators, you know as the faces of brands, you know? You know, sold a lip gloss or you know, some type of products, but they just took the pictures, you know? Someone else handled all the marketing and all this stuff. And so for me, one of the reasons that actually why I didn't think I could do this was because I didn't think I would be able to figure it all out. And on top of everything, I actually am a lupus survivor. I have lupus. And so my health has just been, I would say the biggest obstacle because I'm exhausted a lot. It's just been really, really physically taxing because I would be up all night. You know, I'm a full-time mom during the day. I'm a wife for a few hours, if I can. And then I go into this mode of like building this brand, you know, really trying to work really hard to build a business. And so I would be up four, five o'clock in the morning. Several nights at the beginning of this year up until July or August it was just a really long journey of you know, researching. I wanted to also make sure that I was offering products that we're unique. And so I did a lot of market research to just see what other companies had out there, what was available to people at the time. And I also wanted to make sure that I created a business model that was sustainable for me. And the products that I chose for our initial launch and then actually creating other product lines to continue to further the brand. So there were just so many learning curves but I pride myself on being a DIY-er like, I love to DIY. I love to figure it out. Because it affords me the experience and the opportunity to apply my knowledge to another opportunity or another idea that I have in the future. So I was doing graphic design for a long time for a couple of small businesses. And I used that information and that experience to do graphic design for myself. I've worked, I actually have a consultancy. I work with other creatives and help them with their branding and marketing as well. So I use all of my knowledge to compacting, you know come into play for the Brand Builder Studio as well.
Right, so how did you find the manufacturer to begin with? Like how, like I think a lot of creators ask like, okay, they understand like Teespring and all those things with the vendors will they'll do fulfillment for you and stuff like that. But how, when you try to make a custom product, like where, how do you look? Do you google it? Like what, like, what do you do?
So, luckily for me, I had a couple of friends in high places who gave me some really good advice and gave me some information about some labs. Back in 2000, I want to say maybe 13 or 2012 a good friend of mine gave me some information about a lab. And she told me, you know how to get in touch with some people. Unfortunately, the people that she gave me to get in touch with were no longer with the company. So I kinda had to really, Google became my friend. I wanted to make sure that the products that we offer with the Brand Builder Studio are paraben-free. I, like I said, with lupus my skincare is a huge part of how I stay healthy. You know, just making sure that I don't put any toxic products on my skin. And so if it's not good enough for me then it's not good enough for anyone else. And so I started to really research companies and find manufacturers and labs who specialized in hyperallergenic products-
Toxic free products. Just, I really, I felt like I was in school, to be honest. I became a student of the game, you know? Just really looking around and trying to maximize my time because I knew that this was something that I wanted to launch at a specific time. And I'm not sure if I, I'm not sure if you saw the post but I shared that I wanted it to launch in October. And the very first launch for our company was the Pinky Winky Lux collection which pink is the color for breast cancer awareness month, October is the 10th month of the year and the 10th year of my journey as a brand builder. And so I wanted to make sure that as I was doing all this research that I was able to have everything done at July. July was the time when I wanted things to be, you know starting to get processed and, you know put together so that August and September I could really finalize things and fine tune it. And so that I would be able to launch on time in October. And so yeah, I just-
You really held yourself to that, to that deadline?
Yeah, my friend, I took a course over the at the beginning of this year and they had like a personality quiz and I was labeled a task master. It says that like, I make like lists and like check things off. And it's true. I think it's the teacher in me. I think it, when I have talked about it. Like once a teacher, always a teacher.
Just the skills that you learn, they carry on with you long after you're teaching, you know, 10 years over, so yeah.
I wanted to ask you about the logistics of getting a company to work with you, right? Because I know a lot of these companies have like minimum order requirements or a certain volume limit or something, and I've heard a lot of creators say that that's a capital constraint, right? Like they don't have the money to invest in a thousand piece run or something like that. And so I know some creators will do, like, they'll like pre-launch it or something, right? So they'll tell their creators like, oh or they'll tell their followers like, oh, you know I'm going to be launching this thing. Will you support me? It's kind of like kickstarter type thing like pre-launch type thing. So did you ever consider doing that or like, how did you, how did you make it happen for the initial runs?
So I didn't consider doing a pre-launch because I wanted to have tangible products for promo and for marketing. And then I also wanted to make sure that before I sold it and put my name behind it that these products were what I wanted them to be. And then I didn't wanna have I didn't wanna run the chance of having there be some type of backup or, you know, some type of holdup with processing or shipping taking forever and things of that nature. So one of the things that I did when I was starting the journey of launching was I only, one of the first questions that I would ask when I reach out to different companies was are you able to provide or fulfill minimum quantity orders? And so I made sure within my budget that the quantities that were required in order for them to even process an order were within my budget. And then actually start out really small. So one of the biggest tips that I would give to people is require or request a sample order. And get a couple of samples of just like prototypes that they offer for products that you may be interested in. And then what I did with the sample order was I used the samples to do a lot of my promo before I even launched.
So I knew what I was using. I knew what the products look like. There was a lot of customization that came after that but I definitely use a lot of my samples to really start to get the message out. And get the word out that I was gonna be doing something. And then once I knew how much I like the products then I knew what labs I wanted to go back to and say, Hey, can we do this? Can we fulfill an order, you know, within this number for this amount, within this number, for this date. Because you have to stay on them with dates to make sure that they're processing them in time. To make sure that your logos and branding is printed the way that you want it to be. Again, one of the things that really helped me and even the labs that I worked with, the manufacturers would tell me, like, "We're so glad." Like they loved that I was able to send exactly what I wanted my prototypes to look like in graphic design to them. Because they'll just do anything and send it to you, and bill you and it is what it is. And so, yeah, I was able to, you know take pictures of the samples, use the pictures that I took of the samples to start creating logos that I would use. I would upload the pictures of the logos onto my computer and then create logos that I wanted to show on top of the prototypes. And then send those pictures to the labs so that they could see exactly what I wanted. That was something that was really invaluable. And a lot of times with the labs they will send you a large amount of samples at a really affordable price. So that you can really play around with the products that you're interested in. And then from there make a determination as to whether or not it's something that you wanna continue with.
Super interesting. And so you mentioned, you know, you did some initial promo with those samples that you got. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how do you even approach selling something to your followers, right? I mean, that's something I hear a lot which is that creators are just scared, right? Like that they're nervous to create something that they sell because they've only ever created content for free, right? And so like, what is your mentality there? How did you get past that? Or like, what are your thoughts on that?
Well, Justin, one of the things that I really have done with my platforms on social media is I've used it to offer things a lot. I've made a lot of different offers prior to launching the Brand Builder Studio. Like I said, I have a consultancy. And so I worked with a lot of different female content creators and show them how to up-level their content. And so I sold that service. It was actually an actual six week course. I sold that, I've done like small, you know product based businesses and I've made offers with that. And so I don't I don't really have a problem selling things, you know? Like it's not something I'm uncomfortable with. The most important thing for me in selling is to make sure that what I'm offering is what it is. You know, I don't mind offering a product or selling something, but it has to be legit. It has to be awesome or I won't stand behind it at all. And I've really learned the value of gaining the trust of my audience. I'm very, very relatable with them. They send me DMs, I DM them back. And I'm really, really intentional about creating an authentic relationship with the people who follow me and are part of my community. And so when this came about, many of them have been with me since I first started
My journey on social media. And it was pretty much a no-brainer. A lot of them have been asking for me to get back into the beauty realm. A lot of them had suggested that I start a beauty line. And so when I finally did, it was like a breath of fresh air to a lot of them. And that's their words, not mine. They told me like, finally, what was taking you so long? They were really, really happy that I had taken the leap and actually launched the company. So honestly, within the first week we practically sold out of all of our products.
We've only been in business like I said, it's been officially, I think it's this week is our seventh week. On Saturday it will be seven weeks. And I haven't really been promoting because Black Friday will be probably like a couple hours and I'll be completely sold out of everything. So it's just been, I think, when you pay attention to your audience, if you are a content creator if you're someone who's on social media, trying to grow and trying to grow a brand and also grow a community, one of the most important things that I always suggest is pay attention to your audience. In as much as it is important to share, you know what you're passionate about, it's also important to really cultivate and build upon an audience that actually appreciates things in you. A lot of times, for me my audience is who would inspire me to keep going. They spoke life into me. They encouraged me when I was ready to, you know, hang up the camera and put away the laptop, you know? And really paying attention to what they said. And then finally finding the time to reaffirm it within myself is really how I found it has brought me the most success. Because they showed me what I brought to the table long ago was the thing that really stuck. It was the thing that helped me to grow my audience. And like I said, life has its ups and downs. I've had some family things happen. I was a caregiver to my mom with lung disease. I got married, we relocated to Texas. Like so many things happened. But my audience has really been the driving force behind the Brand Builder Studio. And that was the reason why I wanted to name it that. Because I wanted it to be something relatable to all people, all women. Even if you're a brand builder and you don't actually do content online, you'll still influence. You still have the ability to influence other people in your day-to-day life. And so the Brand Builder Studio was just a place where I wanted to offer products to anyone who considers themselves a brand builder or not. And so it's just been one of those things that I'm really grateful to my audience for inspiring me and encouraging me. And most importantly, supporting this journey that I've been on for so long.
Super inspirational Bre. Well thank you so much for joining us today. How can people follow you or check out the Brand Builder Studio, that kinda thing?
Okay, so you can definitely follow me. My personal page is @xoBreKnowsBest. And then you can definitely follow the Brand Builder Studio. We're on Twitter, we're on Instagram and we also have a Facebook account and it's @thebrandbuilderstudio, everywhere
So make sure to check out all of Bre's stuff. Thanks again, Bre.
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